Time Out's top 100 party songs: the ultimate dance playlist

Party hard with our selection of guaranteed floorfillers



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You’re having a party, you say? Not sure what to cue up on your iPhone? Rest assured, we've got you covered. In fact, we’re worried that our playlist of the 100 greatest party songs may actually cause your dancefloor to spontaneously combust in an explosion of pure joy and body-moving ecstasy. That’s how good we think is.

Have we missed out your favourite party tune? Do you think our Number One song deserves to be at the top? Tell us what you think in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

Countdown our top 100 party songs: 100-81


'Crazy' – Gnarls Barkley

Not exactly a one-hit wonder, since vocalist Cee Lo Green and producer Danger Mouse have many achievements to their names individually… Still, Green’s soaring, gospel-soaked pipes and Mouse’s silky strings combine on this 2006 worldwide smash to irresistibly kinetic effect. Steve Smith

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Crazy' video


'The Love Cats' – The Cure

Any song made up almost entirely of ‘do-do-do’s is essentially guaranteed to be a hit (see also ‘Tom’s Diner’ by Suzanne Vega), so The Cure couldn’t go wrong with this oddly bouncy, and slightly creepy, paean to our feline friends. All of its chamber-pop instrumentation and screechy sound effects create an atmosphere that basically forces you to prowl the dancefloor like Cat from ‘Red Dwarf’. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'The Lovecats' video


'Celebration' – Kool And The Gang

Rich horns, chanking guitars and a whole room full of people hooting and hollering in the background really set the mood for Kool & The Gang's 1980 smash hit. 'We're going to celebrate and have a good time,' go the lyrics. It doesn't get any clearer than that, does it? This one's for the purists. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Celebration' video


'The Clapping Song' – Shirley Ellis

Some of us have no idea what the hell we’re meant to do on the dancefloor. It's a good thing then that songs like this 1965 classic exist to spell out exactly how to get groovy. ‘Pat it on your partner’s hand’ and ‘Clap your hands’ – it all sounds like painting by numbers, but with your feet. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'The Clapping Song' video


'Gonna Make You Sweat' – C+C Music Factory

‘Everybody, dance now!’ So goes the song’s yelled refrain, and we’ll wager you’ll have a hard time not shaking what your mama gave you when the beat kicks in. Masterminded by American production duo C+C Music Factory (David Cole and Robert Clivillés), ‘Gonna Make You Sweat’ paved the way for a slew of chart-friendly house hits in the early ’90s, and made wearing cycling shorts okay. Rejoice! Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Gonna Make You Sweat' video


'Get Busy' – Sean Paul

Just about every Sean Paul hit follows the same formula: a spare, repetitive riddim collides with that inimitable monotone, which always seems far too chill to concern itself with reaching for any tricky notes. But like Mondrian, this Kingston hit maker achieves something alchemical with his brand of pop-reggae minimalism, so much so that obeying his dancefloor exhortations seems downright compulsory. Shake that thing, you say? Sir, yes, sir. Hank Shteamer

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Get Busy' video


'Sweet Child O' Mine' – Guns N' Roses

Serial apostrophe abusers Gn’R had their first proper mega-hit with this heartbreaker. Kicking off with Slash’s most famous riff, which was apparently written as a joke (LOL, good one Slash!), it flows into five minutes of pop rock anthemicism, lightning-fast guitar solos and Axl’s endless wailing. Only play this if you are 100 percent down with air guitar. Eddy Frankel

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Sweet Child O' Mine' video


'Tightrope' – Janelle Monáe featuring Big Boi

Like Prince before her and Bruno Mars soon after, Janelle Monáe showed that she’d taken the lessons of James Brown to heart: not just with the piled-high pompadour, but with the minimalist beat, sassy brass, urgent bassline and, more than anything, the positively hypnotic urgency of her monotone verses. Steve Smith

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Tightrope' video


'Rehab' – Amy Winehouse

This 2006 single found the late, great British soul singer Amy Winehouse at the peak of her talents, even as she sang about the depths of her despair. For her ‘Back to Black’ album, producer Mark Ronson teamed Winehouse with Brooklyn funk musicians The Dap-Kings, resulting in songs that are as groovy as they are dark. ‘Rehab’ became Winehouse’s signature single, finding the tiny vocalist defiant to the end. Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Rehab' video


'Debaser' – Pixies

Led by a dumpy, balding guy screaming about surrealist cinema, on paper this isn't the most promising floorfiller. But ‘Debaser’ has been making shy and retiring alternative types lose their shit for more than two decades now, so Pixies must have done something right. One thick bassline, two guitars grinding up against each other and a double drum fill, and you're plunged into the band’s sexy, scary, psycho world, slicing up eyeballs and shrieking like a demon. Bonkers. James Manning

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Debaser' video


'Rock Your Baby' – George McCrae

Behind every great song, a great story. In the case of this 1974 disco essential, legend has it that KC And The Sunshine Band approached young singer McCrae (who was about to go back to college) and asked him to sing on a track with his wife because the high notes were too much for the KC crew. McCrae’s wife couldn’t make the session, so George sang it on his own, and ‘Rock Your Baby’ went on to sell 11 million copies around the world – none of which you need to know to enjoy the whispered ‘sexy woman’ at the beginning of the song, nor the drum-machine beats, nor those delicious high notes. Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Rock Your Baby' video


'Killing in the Name' – Rage Against The Machine

‘Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses.’ Whoa – is it really the case that a protest song about clandestine racism is one of the 100 best ever party songs? Actually, yes it is, because nothing else quite sums up the pure passion of rebellion as well as this monster from LA rap-metallers Rage. Incredibly, it even hit the Christmas Number One spot in 2007, after a social media campaign helped it overtake the effort of that year's 'X Factor' elf. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Killing in the Name Of' video


'Heart of Glass' – Blondie

‘“Heart of Glass” was one of the first songs Blondie wrote,’ Debbie Harry has been quoted as saying, ‘but it was years before we recorded it properly. We’d tried it as a ballad, as reggae, but it never quite worked.’ As a machine-tooled disco ode to lost love, featuring crystalline synths, a throbbing rhythm section and, floating above it all, Harry’s icy-cool teen-dream vocals, the 1978 cut more than worked – it slayed. And it still does. Bruce Tantum

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Heart of Glass' video


'Got to Give It Up' – Marvin Gaye

A boisterous, presumably bell-bottomed crowd, gyrating on the dancefloor of your imagination, can be heard high in the mix. Take their whoops as your cue: Marvin Gaye supplies the cool falsetto and someone can be heard rocking the cowbell, but the prime directive here is to dance. When Paul Thomas Anderson needed a backdrop for Dirk Diggler’s glory days in ‘Boogie Nights’, this is what he chose. Joshua Rothkopf

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Got To Give It Up' video


'Dance Wiv Me' – Dizzee Rascal featuring Calvin Harris

Both Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris are guilty of rather resting on their laurels these days. The Bow rapper and the Dumfries producer regularly churn out stadium-sized anthems, without really breaking the grime and chart-dance templates they (respectively) helped create. However, back in 2008, they really had a thing going together. The bassline’s cheeky, the chorus is karaoke-simple, and it gave Dizzee a chance to prove himself a true crossover success. A pop-rap gem for sleazy chancers and seductive dancers alike. Jonny Ensall

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Dance Wiv Me' video


'In da Club' – 50 Cent

Eventually, every teenager reaches the age of feeling too cool to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ on his or her big day. In 2003, 50 Cent filled the natal-celebration void with ‘In Da Club’. The now-iconic opening verse, 'Go shorty / It’s your birthday / We gonna party like it’s your birthday,' makes ‘In Da Club’ an obvious choice for any party that serves shots instead of orange soda. Derek Schwartz

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'In Da Club' video


'Fell in Love With a Girl' – The White Stripes

Jack and Meg White’s 2002 hit was the first indicator that the Stripes were capable of a more polished, radio-friendly version of the raw garage-punk they’d previously perfected. (The ridiculously cool, LEGO-filled video, directed by Michel Gondry, surely helped propel its popularity.) Put this on at a party now and watch as everyone around you immediately begins to pogo. Amy Plitt

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Fell In Love With A Girl' video


'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' – Wham!

Some parties are cool. Some have gimmicks. Some mark a special occasion. But the very best parties have a feeling of unbridled joy to them, and this 1984 hit from Wham! is a 100 percent proof distillation of the smiley stuff. It is, of course, utterly ridiculous, from the opening 'Jitterbug!' intro, to George Michael’s white trousers and Choose Life T-shirt combo in the video. But sweet Lord, those high notes, the slap bass and that brass breakdown! Too good. Sophie Harris

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' video


'Just Dance' – Lady Gaga

No list of party songs would be complete without a head nod to the woman who redefined dance-pop music. Dance parties just weren’t the same before Lady Gaga took the music industry by storm with ‘Just Dance’, the debut single off of 2008’s ‘The Fame’. Reportedly written in just ten minutes, it captures that perfect mix of innocence and craziness that makes people want to cut loose and dive into the throng. Derek Schwartz

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Just Dance' video


'Song 2' – Blur

Britpop’s foremost ambassadors changed their tune – quite literally – with their self-titled 1997 LP, embracing the crunchy guitars and lo-fi ethos of American grunge and indie rock that frontman Damon Albarn had once railed against. Unsurprisingly, it led to the band’s biggest US hit: ‘Song 2’, a catchy, two-minute blast of Nirvana-esque riffs that became ubiquitous at stadiums and parties across the globe. (But please, don’t refer to it as ‘the woo-hoo song,’ we beg of you.) Amy Plitt

Buy this song on iTunes | Watch the 'Song 2' video

Countdown 80-61 >>

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